It's hard NOT to be inspired by *Green House Project Dr. Thomas' book, "What are Older People For: How Elders Will Save the World" and a related NPR podcast by Joseph Schapiro...
Essentially "Green Houses" re-vision and reverse traditional long term care models by developing smaller homes that are integrated into the neighboring community. These homes are carefully considered and designed to return dignity and a sense of well being—as well as personalized care—to elders.
At the core of this model are the skilled nursing assistants called shahbazim (basically "midwives to the elders"). These shahbaz care for and befriend the elders, with the support from nurses and therapists.
The Green House Project builds upon years of innovative prototyping around elder care. Green Houses are not just modified nursing homes (although they were at first conceived that way as the EDEN Alternative). Green Houses are built from scratch, from the ground up, taking into consideration every possible detail.
The Green House Project was conceived and developed by Dr. Bill Thomas, who wrote "What are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World" which seeks to re-discover the role and value of the elder in our society and outlines ways in which elders can become healers in our society.
The Green House Project was featured on an NPR podcast (only about 8 min. long) by Joseph Schapiro:
Dr. Thomas speaks of the ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OF GREEN HOUSES in his book What Are Old People For? ...
"The architecture of long-term care facilities reflects — in steel, brick, and tile — their fundamentally medical intention…In Boston I toured the Hearthstone facilities created by John Zeisel. As we bumped and juddered over the city’s back streets,he told me that focus was Latin for "hearth." When we focus on something, we make it the center of our attention. The hearth is the center of a home, the place around which we arrange our living. Every Green House must have a center, a hearth around which the affairs of daily living may be arranged. Our deepest cultural memories suffuse the hearth with the twin pleasures of food and fire. The hearth includes an open kitchen and a large table around which meals are shared. The importance of having such an arrangement is confirmed by research showing that people living with dementia benefit from taking their meals in communal settings. Because the hearth is the center of the design, each elder’s room opens onto this space. There are no long corridors. Though the term homelike is often invoked, nursing home design actually gives its most careful attention to maximizing the efficient use of labor."
* This inspiration came out of a brainstorming session with the Palo Alto / Bay Area OpenIDEO local-meet-up.